It was a long time before the kind-hearted expostulations of Antony Van Corlear, aided by the soothing melody of his trumpet, could lower the spirits of Peter Stuyvesant from their warlike and vindictive tone, and prevent his making widows and orphans of half the population of Boston. With great difficulty he was prevailed upon to bottle up his wrath for the present; to conceal from the council his knowledge of their machinations; and by effecting his escape, to be able to arrive in time for the salvation of the Manhattoes.
The latter suggestion awakened a new ray of hope in his bosom; he forthwith dispatched a secret message to his councillors at New Amsterdam, apprising them of their danger, and commanding them to put the city in a posture of defense, promising to come as soon as possible to their assistance. This done, he felt marvelously relieved, rose slowly, shook himself like a rhinoceros, and issued forth from his den, in much the same manner as Giant Despair is described to have issued from Doubting Castle, in the chivalric history of the Pilgrim’s Progress.
And now much does it grieve me that I must leave the gallant Peter in this imminent jeopardy; but it behooves us to hurry back and see what is going on at New Amsterdam, for greatly do I fear that city is already in a turmoil. Such was ever the fate of Peter Stuyvesant; while doing one thing with heart and soul he was too apt to leave everything else at sixes and sevens. While, like a potentate of yore, he was absent attending to those things in person which in modern days are trusted to generals and ambassadors, his little territory at home was sure to get in an uproar—all which was owing to that uncommon strength of intellect which induced him to trust to nobody but himself, and which had acquired him the renowned appellation of Peter the Headstrong.
There is no sight more truly interesting to a philosopher than a community where every individual has a voice in public affairs; where every individual considers himself the Atlas of the nation; and where every individual thinks it his duty to bestir himself for the good of his country—I say, there is nothing more interesting to a philosopher than such a community in a sudden bustle of war. Such clamor of tongues—such patriotic bawling—such running hither and thither—everybody in a hurry—everybody in trouble—everybody in the way, and everybody interrupting his neighbor—who is busily employed in doing nothing! It is like witnessing a great fire, where the whole community are agog—some dragging about empty engines, others scampering with full buckets, and spilling the contents into their neighbors’ boots, and others ringing the church bells all night, by way of putting out the fire. Little firemen, like sturdy little knights storming a breach, clambering up and down scaling-ladders, and bawling through tin trumpets, by way of directing